Feeling Blessed

At the time of writing this blog, I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my great nephew. He is due at the weekend, but I guess that it could be any day now, so the anticipation is growing. This is my niece’s first child and my brother and sister in law’s first grandchild. My niece’s partner already has a boy, who is definitely part of the family, but this is the first baby that we have had for a few years, which is always exciting.

Santa’s little helper

One of the reasons that I feel particularly blessed this week was because I got to see my eldest daughter in London. I had gone to London for a conference and luckily had some free time in the evening. She is currently working as one of Santa’s helpers (I’m not sure she’s an elf, as she’s quite tall), so I was able to go and see her at work. She seemed very happy, along with all the other little helpers.

As a bonus I also got to make a snowman and see Santa in his grotto. I may be a grown up, but there is still something very magical about Christmas, particularly seeing the little children’s faces light up at all the twinkling lights and snow scenes. I know that it’s probably still a bit early for Christmassy things (1st December is probably my limit), but sometimes you just have to take the opportunity that is handed to you.

 

 The Book of Mormon

Also whilst I was in London I finally got to see “The Book of Mormon”. Now I know that this is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is very inappropriate in places and some people may find it offensive, but I have been wanting to see it for ages. Luckily I got to go with my daughter and my friend from work.

I thought that it was hilariously funny. The singing and acting from all of the cast was amazing. It takes the mickey out of lots of different musicals along the way, as well as poking fun at religion. Although I think that for me, there was a moral to the tale, whether that was what was intended or not. I think the moral was that it doesn’t matter what religion you are, or what you believe in, but if you are giving people hope and help, then that is better than converting them to a religion that they don’t really understand and then walking away and leaving people in poverty and danger.

I would definitely see it again if I had the chance, but if you are easily offended, don’t like bad language or feel that religion is not meant to be humoured then I would give it a miss.

 

 

 

 

 

Shows and Showers

Life is a Cabaret

On Friday evening I went with a couple of friends to see Cabaret at Leeds Grand Theatre. I have only ever seen the film version before. My eldest daughter had seen the stage version a few years ago and had been really impressed by it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl (Mum, it was amazing… you have to see it!)

The production was excellent and I really enjoyed the show. All the performers were amazing, particularly Will Young and Louise Redknapp. The ensemble were pretty stunning too and showed off some impressive dance talent. I hadn’t told either of my friends anything about it, as I didn’t want to spoil it.

The first half is pretty crazy, set in Berlin, mainly centred around the Kit Kat Klub and its eccentric performers. It’s definitely not for those who are easily offended, but does a really good job at getting the point across.

One of my friends wasn’t really sure whether she liked it or not. However during the second half, the mood changes as the Nazis start to make their presence known, culminating in a pretty shocking ending (even though my daughter had told me about it, I wasn’t really prepared for how gobsmacked I would be).

All in all it was a great show. It wouldn’t be on my list of must see again, but I’m definitely glad that I went to see it. In this age where tolerance (or lack of it) is in the news all the time, it certainly makes you think about how we treat others who don’t necessarily fit in with our ideas of what is “normal” or acceptable.

 

On a lighter note

On Sunday I was invited to my niece’s baby shower. I’ve never been to a baby shower before. They weren’t really around when me and my friends had our babies. If I’m honest I wasn’t really sure what the purpose was, or what would be expected of me, whether I should buy a gift now or later, or both?!

My youngest daughter and I went along to the baby shower, armed with cup cakes with blue icing and appropriate “it’s a boy” toppers. I didn’t really want to take a present for the baby as I want to do this when he is born. I know this is probably an old fashioned view, but that’s just me. We did however take her a little present, just for her, rather than baby.

To be honest it was a really lovely afternoon. It was nice to see everyone and catch up and it was particularly good to see my lovely niece looking so well and clearly enjoying being pregnant.

On the way home my daughter said that it was probably the last time we would all be together for a while, as once she has the baby she won’t want everyone there at once (Sometimes she speaks a lot of sense). I guess that this is one of the purposes of the baby shower, a chance for us to be together, to celebrate her pregnancy and wish her well, rather than everyone turning up within a week of her having the baby, when she is just getting settled with her new family.

Now it’s just waiting and wishing her all the best and lots of love x

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Friends and Family

Catching up with friends

On Wednesday I met up with some friends that I used to work with. We went out for a lovely meal and had a really good catch up. At one time we all worked together, but slowly we have all moved on to work in different places, one has even retired.

During my working life, I have met and worked with countless people. It is strange how there are some people that you work with and then never really keep in contact with, you kind of know that all you ever had in contact with each other was work. Then there are others who you really connect with and make sure that you continue to see, even though you no longer work together.

Family Duty

On Saturday I took my mum and dad out for the afternoon. They wanted to go for some shopping and they don’t get out very much, as they are both elderly and neither of them drive. I took them for some shopping and they had a bit of lunch, before I took them back home.

Some weekends I find it really hard to fit in spending time with them. I know that that sounds really bad, but by the time I’ve done shopping, washing, cleaning etc. I feel that my weekend has gone. However at the minute my youngest daughter is helping out by doing some cleaning etc. on the days when she is not working, so this has freed up a little time.

One of the things my dad wanted to buy was a new DVD player. When we got back to the house I offered to set it up for him. After scrabbling about at the back of the TV sorting out wires, I managed to unplug the old one, then found another DVD player that wasn’t plugged in, which was exactly the same as the one we’d just bought. For some reason, they had forgotten buying a new DVD player and carried on using the old one which didn’t work properly!

Anyway they now have a working DVD player and one to return which they didn’t actually need to buy. We managed to have a laugh about it, which was good, but it did make me realise that perhaps they do need a bit more help than I thought.

I also got home and realised that after all that I’d forgotten a few things that were on my shopping list. Perhaps I need looking after too!

 

A nice surprise

It’s been a fairly quiet week this week, with things just steadily ticking along at work and at home. But there was one nice surprise to this ordinary week.

On Wednesday I arrived home from work to find that my eldest daughter had arrived home from London for a few days. I hadn’t really expected to see her until Christmas, but both the theatres that she works at were closed for a few days as they were in between shows, so she decided to come back home for a few days.

We didn’t really do much whilst she was at home. I was working during the day, but it was nice to sit together as a family and have a meal and just to watch TV together on a night. It was nice to catch up with the things that are going on, that you often forget to say in a phone call. Sometimes when she rings I am at work or busy with things, but by the time I am free to talk to her she has had to go to work. It was nice just to talk about ordinary everyday things.

She did however do the Park Run with me on Saturday morning. when I say we ran together, we went to the run together, but she runs much faster than me, so finished the course much quicker than me. It was lovely at the end for her to be waiting for me with her friend.

The other thing that is now really good is that my two daughters get on really well together. As they are not in the house together all the time, they seem to irritate each other much less than they did. In fact my youngest daughter knew that her sister was coming home and had managed to keep it quiet. It was nice to see them chatting and laughing together – perhaps its true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

My two girls are very different and haven’t always seen eye to eye, but I know that they are always there for each other. I don’t have a sister, I only have brothers, so I’ve never had that kind of relationship. I am close to my youngest brother and I hop as the girls grow up, that no matter where they are, they will keep a close bond and know that they can rely on each other.

As for the photo above, it’s not of my girls, but they and anyone who has a sister, or more than one daughter knows exactly what it means!

Marvellous Majorca

As I wrote my last blog, I was sitting on a sun bed by the pool at a beautiful villa in Puerto Pollensa in Majorca. We have been to Majorca for the last three years because it is such a pretty place and we feel able to relax and enjoy ourselves there. It is the first time that we have been without our children and the first time that we have stayed in a villa. Unfortunately I have now returned to a cold, rainy and windy England, but thought I’d let you know what I got up to on my travels last week.

Old Town Pollensa

On Sunday morning we took a trip up to the market in the Old Town of Pollensa. This is a beautiful market square, surrounded by lovely old buildings and a church in the corner.  The stalls sell lots of beautiful fresh fruit and veg, cheese, cured meats, olives, nuts and sweets.

As we were staying in a villa we bought some lovely fresh fruits and salad to put with our barbeque later on. I also bought some olives, which I love and some very brightly coloured jelly sweets.

We walked up the Calvari Steps, which are 365 steps up a very steep hillside, leading to a tiny church. There are pretty little houses on the way up the hill and there were also a couple of buskers playing acoustic guitars which sounded lovely It was extremely hot, but the view from the top was amazing. It was made more worthwhile as I felt able to treat myself to an iced coffee with cream and ice cream when I got back down. I’m pretty sure that the walk had burned all the calories off!

Soller

Soller is a beautiful little town on the west coast of Majorca. To get there you have to drive along the  very twisty roads that run through the mountains. Although the journey feels quite treacherous, it is definitely worth the drive.

We had breakfast and a wander through the town, before taking the tram down to Puerto del Soller, which is such a beautiful coastal area with a glorious beach and harbour. It was very hot by this time, so after a short walk, we went for ice cream, in a restaurant overlooking the bay and just watched the world go by.

Alcudia

We visited the old town of Alcudia during the evening to have a meal. The town itself is set in a medieval castle, so is inside the walls. It is a lovely setting, particularly on an evening as it starts to get dark. There are lots of restaurants to choose from and there is a lovely atmosphere, sitting outside within the impressive walls of the city.

Walking and snorkelling

Both me and my husband really enjoy snorkelling. This is something that I have come to enjoy fairly recently, over the last few years. I tried scuba diving when I was younger, but found that I didn’t really like the feel of the mask and breathing apparatus. I had a go at snorkelling when we went to Majorca. The water there is so warm and clear that I found I really enjoyed it. Another thing that it also did for me was to slow my breathing down. When I was struggling with anxiety, I spent the majority of my time breathing really fast and sounding out of breath. Once I had my head under the water, all I could hear was my breathing and it helped me to concentrate on that and deliberately slow my breathing down, which really seemed to help.

This year we walked to Cala de Boquer, which is about a 45 minute walk from Puerto Pollensa. It’s quite a rocky hilly walk, but if you set of early enough, you  can get there before it gets too hot. There is nothing there at all except for a beautiful rocky cove and obviously the sea, which is full of fish and great for snorkelling.

The other walk we did was to Cal San Vicente. This is quite a hilly walk, again to a beautiful cove with a soft sandy beach. There are a couple of restaurants here and sun beds on the beach. The sea, again is crystal clear and great for snorkelling.

Mosquitoes, car hire and fish bites

Just a couple of things that you might want to be aware of if you are thinking of going to Majorca.

We hired a car from AVIS and met the rudest person I have ever met behind the “customer service” desk. She told us we had not hired a 7 seater vehicle and that there wasn’t one available unless we paid an extra 25 euros per day. Luckily we had booked through Villa Plus, who managed to sort it out for us with a phone call. Having read reviews about Avis, this appears to be a bit of a ploy to get extra money from customers.

I have been to Majorca several times, usually in July and August. I have never been bitten by mosquitoes, but this time I had a lot of bites. I understand this is more common in September, so be prepared if you go at this time. Some of us had bites, some did not, so it appears mosquitoes like particular blood types, scents etc. It certainly didn’t spoil my holiday, but it is a bit of a pain when you are scratching and spotty.

For some reason whilst I was snorkelling this year I was bitten/ stung by something in the sea. This has never happened to me before. It was a bit of a shock and felt like I had been cut by something. After the initial mark, which swelled up a bit, there were no other effects. I understand that there are no dangerous fish or jelly fish on the island so there was no panic.

Not sure why I was so attractive to the hungry wildlife this year!

Something for everyone

Whilst we were in Majorca, my youngest daughter was also there, but in Magaluf, on her first holiday abroad without us. She also had a great time, but a completely different holiday to us. We’ve certainly recovered quicker than she has and I think the most of her holiday was spent partying. She returned home safely despite this, so that’s a relief.

If you’ve not been to Majorca I would recommend it. It’s a very scenic island with lots of lovely coves and bays. It does get busy in some areas, but this depends on where you go and what time of year. It is certainly one of my favourite places and the other bonus is that it is a really short flight and you can get there so quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempus Fugit

Yes it’s true my blog is late again. The reason I used the title tempus fugit  is because it is generally translated as time flies, which is just my clever way of saying that I’m late writing my blog. There is no real excuse or reason, other than time really does fly. So here is a catch up of what’s been happening over the last few weeks that I’ve missed telling you about.

Kynren

Kynren is an outdoor performance on a massive scale held in Bishop Auckland in County Durham. Someone told my husband about it a few weeks ago and we decided to book. What a great decision that was.

The venue is a purpose built stadium with tiered seating. The whole performance takes place in the valley and hillside opposite the stadium seating. There were over 1500 people  involved, all locals who take part voluntarily.

The performance was amazing, literally the history of Bishop Auckland told through the eyes of a young boy who travels back in time. There was music, battles, history, dancing, digital backdrops and pyrotechnics.

The organisation of the whole thing, from parking up to leaving was superb and we had an absolutely great evening.

Family fun day

Do you ever go to a family funeral or wedding and see people that you’ve not seen for months, or sometimes years? At those events everyone says “We must get together soon” and for some reason you never do, until the next funeral or wedding.Well this was how family fun day began.

A friend of ours, not actually related in any way decided that instead of promising to get together, he would arrange a family fun day. Four years ago, we had the first one, on an August Bank Holiday weekend, where we turned up at the rugby club, played rounders, races tug of war and had a number of quizzes. It was a great day and has just taken off.

Each year extra people get invited and some that have been the years before no longer come, but it always a really great day, with lots of banter and laughter. It is lovely just to get together for no other reason than to spend some time together.

A wedding invite

On bank holiday Monday we were lucky enough to be invited to the evening reception for a friends wedding.  It was a beautiful evening, in a lovely venue.

When the invitations came out you were asked to choose a song that you would most likely get up and dance to. We chose “oh what a night” by Franki Valli. We had only just arrived at the venue when the song was played, so we were straight up to dance. It was a real pleasure to share the celebration with their friends and family.

A late summer break

So after spending a few days back at work after the extended Bank Holiday Weekend, it was time to set off on a cheeky week away in the sun. Just as everyone was getting their children ready for setting off back to school after the summer holidays, we flew off to Majorca for a nice break, with my brother, his wife and two of our friends.

As I write this we are a few days in and I am sat next to the pool at the villa, enjoying a sandwich in the sunshine. We have had a lovely few days, in Puerto Pollensa, doing a bit of Walking, a bit of snorkelling, lots of eating and drinking. I’m not really a sun worshipper as I am mostly pale and freckley , but it’s lovely to be sat out in the fresh air, nice and warm with a cold drink in my hand.

Hope to write my blog on time next week, but until then…..cheers!!

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A Lottery Dream

Just recently some friends and I got talking about what we might spend our money on if we won the lottery and also about the things that we would like to do when we retire. I find it fascinating how different we are and what we think would make us happy if money was no object.

Some wanted new houses or very elaborate home improvements, some wanted to buy a fancy car. I don’t have particularly expensive tastes and I’ve never been a big fan of “things”. My house is somewhere that we live as a family, where people can come and feel comfortable. It does need some refurbishment, but it wouldn’t be anything particularly swanky or expensive,

I don’t particular wear a lot of jewellery and I’m not really into designer clothes. I do quite like a nice pair of shoes, but I’m not sure I’d spend my full pension or lottery win on shoes!

My ideal way to spend the money, would be to travel and see all those places that I’ve not been able to see, either due to lack of finances or lack of time. There’s lots of places in America that I’d still like to visit, Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, Lapland, in fact there is plenty of the world that I’ve not seen. A lot of the holidays that we have had have suited us as a family and it’s only been very recently that me and my husband have started to visit some of the places that we want to see, that the girls may not have been particularly interested in.

The other thing that I would love to do is to be able to book and see lots of different musical theatre shows, without having to worry about the cost. It would be lovely to travel to London, Broadway or Las Vegas to see different shows every few weeks. I am very lucky in that I do go to the theatre fairly often, but tend to book things that I’ve seen before, or that I have a pretty good idea that I am going to like. It would be wonderful to be able to book something without having to think about paying a lot of money for something that I end up not liking.

To be fair there are very few musical theatre shows that I haven’t enjoyed. Even those where I have thought it wasn’t my particular cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed watching just for the sheer spectacle, the costumes or just seeing the wonderful talent of the performers. I love a good show or a concert and I would certainly be able to fill my time with these things.

Who knows, I might even be wearing a new pair of shoes !!

 

 

Time Flies

I can’t believe that we are already on Wednesday and that I have not got round to writing my blog again this week. I also can’t believe that it is the middle of August already, where does the time go?

This week it will be my eldest daughter’s 21st birthday, the last milestone birthday of the year for us as a family. It has certainly been a year for milestone birthdays, with me being 50, my youngest being 18 and my eldest being 21. That certainly wasn’t planned in any way, but it has made for a very busy, exciting, if not slightly expensive year.

This week also sees the week, where my youngest daughter will receive her A Level results. She is not particularly concerned about this, as she does not wish to go to university and has already found herself a job, but I do feel for all those other students and parents out there, who are anxiously waiting to see what Thursday will bring.

Making Progress

Over the last couple of weeks I have felt really motivated to keep up with my running and also to keep on with the healthy eating. I certainly feel much better for it and feel that I am definitely making progress with my fitness.

On Tuesday I attended at my usual Slimming World class and it was the evening to award the “Woman of the Year”. The people who had been nominated talked about what had been the defining moment that brought them to lose weight and what a difference that it had made to their lives.

It was very inspiring to listen to their stories and very moving too. It certainly got me thinking about the difference losing a couple of stone and increasing my exercise has done for me. Interestingly, some of the women had no photos from when they started losing weight, which said a lot about the lack of confidence that you can have when you are overweight. I certainly felt that I didn’t want to appear on photos. I’m still not the most photogenic person , but don’t completely hate having my photo taken anymore.

Hopefully I’ll keep up the hard work and continue with the progress. I’ll let you know how I get on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An eventful week (2)

So the second part of the week was spent celebrating our youngest daughters 18th birthday. It’s really hard to believe that she is eighteen already! When we used to go on holiday in a big family group she was always the baby and now she’s an adult too.

Celebration cocktails

On Thursday it was her actual birthday and we had a bit of a lazy day at home then celebrated by gong into Leeds for cocktails. There were a couple of friends and one of the mums who I am also friends with. We had a few cocktails together and then the young ladies went of to celebrate whilst me and my friend returned home. I’m definitely not cut out for partying until the early hours any more.

Party time!

On Friday evening we had the official party at our local country club, which sounds much grander than it actually is, but it was a great venue for her to be able to celebrate with her friends.

Early in the evening the family guests began to arrive and I was a little concerned when there were very few friends there. However I was reliably informed that no one goes out that early and true to form about 1 1/2 hours later the friends began to drift in and there was a steady stream of them for the rest of the evening.

They were a great bunch of young people. They probably drank too much, but there were no problems and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, which was the main thing.

The food consisted of take away pizza, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread and chips, followed by tiers of donuts. I was a bit dubious when she told me that this was what she wanted, but it actually worked really well and certainly as much easier than preparing loads of food that no one eats.

At the end of the night the younger ones went off to party some more and yes older folk went home to put our feet up.

It was great to see the young people enjoying themselves and was good to get the family together too. I may be biased but I’m really proud of how she has grown up and what a lovely articulate and sociable young woman she has turned into.

The only downside to this week is that I have  probably eaten my body weight in donuts and pizza and really need to get back on the healthy eating, but for this week, life was not about eating lettuce and fruit, but about spending time as a family and celebrating their achievements.

 

An Eventful Week (1)

On Monday my husband, youngest daughter and myself travelled to London for our eldest daughters graduation from The London College of Music at The University of West London. She has graduated with first in BA hons in Musical Theatre. Last week I mentioned how she had overcome the initial let downs and has worked hard and been so determined, that even though I may be biased I honestly believe that she deserves that achievement.

Proud parent moment

The graduation ceremony took place yesterday at Wembley Stadium, which in itself is a pretty impressive place. I’ve never been to a graduation ceremony before. Other than my sister in law, who I didn’t really know when she was a student, my eldest daughter is the first person in the family to go to university.

The ceremony ran like clockwork, from registering, collecting gowns, having photos taken to entering the Great Hall, it was obviously meticulously planned. The actual walking across the stage was a “blink and you might miss it” moment, but was still worth the wait.

Afterwards the graduates were allowed out onto the terrace to take photos, which was great. Then it was into central London with some friends and their families for a meal in the Coppa Restaurant next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Afterwards the young people went off to party and us older folk went back to the hotel for a well earned rest.

It was a great day, marred very slightly by one of the mum’s not being very well at the end of the night, so I wish her a speedy recovery.

I want to thank everyone at the University, who has tutored, encouraged and inspired my daughter through the last three years. Particularly the group of friends who have been an inspiration, support and an endless source of entertainment for me.

I’d also like to wish them all the best of luck as they begin their new journey out in the big wide world. Continue to support each other as you’ve done over the last three years and you won’t go wrong.

Here’s  to the future, embrace it, whatever it may bring.